In his Friday column, our CBS Sports colleague Tony Barnhart reported that SEC commissioner Mike Slive had told him the "full cost of attendance" scholarship plan recently championed by the Big Ten's Jim Delany was "something he would like to discuss."
But speaking to the Birmingham News's Jon Solomon over the weekend, Slive made it clear he'd like to do a lot more with those scholarships than just discuss them:
"I think we're to a point now in intercollegiate athletics where we have been very fortunate to have developed significant revenue streams," Slive said Friday. "A lot of our student-athletes have significant needs and it's one of those issues whose time has come" ...Those statements about the NCAA and their legislative emphasis on a "level playing field" echo those already made by Delany--statements not-so-subtly intended as a shot across the bow to small-school opponents who would block their plans to aid BCS conference athletes in the name of competitive equality.
"Often times when I think of the foundation and basis of a lot of NCAA legislation, a lot of it tries to ensure a level playing field," Slive said. "It's an unattainable concept, but that's often the foundation. If you say the foundation ought to be student-athlete welfare, it's a different place for which to start thinking about full cost of attendance. Using that as the starting point, I think it's time for the national conversation to begin in a very serious way about the full cost of attendance."
Delany and Slive clearly understand that full cost scholarships (an item far too expensive for most non-BCS leagues) would drive the finanical wedge even further between D-I athletics' haves and have-nots ... and they just as clearly do not care where their conferences' "student-athlete welfare" (and, surely, the attendant competitive advantage) is concerned.
There are still major impediments to the Delany plan; Title IX may legally guarantee the same scholarship funds for all varsity athletes, not just those in revenue sports, and such a plan would have to be approved by a vote of the entire NCAA membership. (That Mark Emmert supports full cost scholarships would seem to be a big help in clearing the second hurdle.) But with such powerful backers as Delany, Slive, and the NCAA president, there seems little question this issue (and the potential FBS-shattering fallout) is going to get the "discussion" Slive wants sooner rather than later.